NEKLogoSmallThe Writers’ Retreat Newsletter

July 2011, Volume 11, No 2


In This Issue






Upcoming Workshops and Clinics:

September 6–October 4, 2011: Adventure in Prose

Info and register online or e-mail Julia Shipley



October 7–9, 2011: Screenwriting Clinic: 

   Making a Good Script Great

Info and register online or e-mail Linda Seger






Place your message in front of the writing world!


The Writers’ Retreat is currently planning to offer space to advertise on our website. We will offer effective, very low cost website advertising solutions that enable advertisers to place their banners or text links on our site in various locations.


If you are interested and you want to secure a space, please send an e-mail to with WEB AD in the subject line, all your contact information (email, address, telephone, etc.) and a few words describing your ad.  We will reserve a space for you: first reserved, first served basis. The full details about our program will be outlined in our upcoming newsletter - ad media formats, implementation, pricing, etc. We reserve the right to reject any ad that we feel detracts from our site or is not in keeping with our writers’ friendly atmosphere.



Micheline Côté, The Writers’ Retreat.

Shape your Vision into Reality with The Writers' Retreat!




By Adilah Barnes


One of the most exciting stages of becoming a published author is when the time comes to meet your readers in person through book signings. In my case, after six years of taking my time writing my self-published Essence Magazine bestseller book On My Own Terms: One Actor’s Journey, the time had finally come to let go and share my work with my readers. 


This was both an exciting and nervous time for me because I did not know how my work would be received. True, there were those professional family and friends who had read my manuscript and given positive feedback but now it was time to release my work to those beyond my circle of supporters.


The time had now come to plan my book junket tour of book signings around the country.


Like me, you will have to decide where and for whom you want to offer book signings. In my case, I juggle a lot of balls and interface with a number of people from varying walks of life. My longtime publicist was also very instrumental in getting the word out about my new release book signings to both those I know and to the general public through press releases and advance print articles.


To date, I have offered well over 40 book signings from coast to coast in such settings as my writer’s retreat, bookstores, theatres, colleges, and personal homes. My supporters have included family, friends, peers, college presenters, my students, my alumni association and booksellers.


I have found the following to be useful tips that may also serve you, particularly if you are about to offer your first book signing:


Presentation is important at book signings.


I have invested in book stands to display by book on a display table. I have also created posters and display boards using my book cover to brand my book. My book cover is turquoise, black and white and I use those same vibrant colors for my book signing table that usually includes a table cloth, vase, flowers and a candle.


I generally read 3 sections of my book.


This gives the reader a taste of the book and just enough to hear to want more. As an actor, I am able to add theatrics to the readings by using different inflections for the various voices and use of pauses to underscore dramatic moments. One does not have to be an actor to create these theatrics, just a desire to bring the book alive through the spoken word by taking one’s time, enunciating clearly and speaking from the diaphragm. I also conclude with a question and answer period to hear thoughts from my guests.




Whether it be in a home, a theatre, or bookstore, it is always nice to have something for the readers to munch on. Having that table also allows the guests to congregate and speak over food before and after the reading.



I have found it is best to have someone assist with set up of the book signing table. I usually have someone collect the money. Do make sure you have change and a money pouch or box. Make sure you are at one end of the table to sign books once purchased.



I only use the person’s first name to make the signing more personal. I also like to use black ink pens with a nice texture for signing I date my autograph on the author’s page. If there is a long line, I try to keep the conversation brief so that the line keeps moving.


Guest Book

I keep a nice guest book on my table for those who purchase a book to sign. Not only does this book document dates, locations and attendance, the information can also be used in the future contact, for feedback or additional purchases. 


Enjoy this part of becoming an author. Book signings are a wonderful way to meet and interact with readers and gain valuable feedback.  This is a precious part of the process of writing!


Adilah Barnes can be reached at (Georgia location) or





By Dana Walrath 


Gardening is the first thing that I experienced as an addiction. I gardened obsessively during the years when I first had young children, sometimes even staying out after dark to finish getting plants into the earth, the kids calling out the window for their dinner. At the time, we lived along side railroad tracks in West Philadelphia, a mother, a father, and three small sons. A honeysuckle-covered fence separated our garden from gunshots, prostitutes turning tricks, used condoms, and empty syringes.

Today, I live out in the country where most of the earth maintains itself in a state of natural beauty. The few tended areas, the perennial beds I’ve established, tend to maintain themselves. Vegetables share the earth with a modicum of weeds, because though I still garden to connect with the natural universe, through touch and over time, this connection has become calm instead of desperate. This change wasn’t a simple “geographic cure.” The calm I have now in my life comes from shifting my obsessions and my sore spots into words rather than into the earth. Getting the cadence right in a poem or scene satisfies in ways that a wheelbarrow full of bishop’s weed never could.

With this autobiography, it is little wonder that, Stanley Kunitz’s beautiful book, The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden, resonates so deeply. Kunitz draws parallels between writing and tending a garden, in the process conveying important concepts of craft. Poem can substitute for garden in so many of his phrases such as, “One reason a garden can speak to you is that it is both its own reality and a manifestation of the interior life of the mind that imagined it in the beginning.”  Like a good gardener, Kunitz processes everything that life gave him in his composter, using all of it, even the pain, to make beauty for us.

Brutal pruning is essential for the rose to flower just as it is for a poem or story to come to life. Cycles and seasons mirror for us the time it takes to grow a piece of work, each season bringing its own feeling: the first flush of creation, the toil, the rich harvest and finally surrender to the dormancy of winter. Letting go of an initial visions allows the garden to make its own shape. Finding the beauty in the untended corner or the texture of thorns brings unexpected pleasure.

It has always mattered to me that the person and the artist exist as an integrated whole. Kunitz’s memoirs, musings, and poems are so seamlessly integrated that when he referred back to the slap his mother gave him as a child near the end of the book, I found myself looking back for the exact moment in the prose sections only to discover that his poem, “The Portrait,” contained all the details of this formative experience.

Just as one might plant bright spikes of spiderwort next to the round filigree textures of Johnson’s blue geranium, Kunitz combines the deeply personal with the place of creative work in the larger social whole. Gardens not only provide feasts for bellies and eyes—we could not survive without them. The plants, the earth, and words connect us to fellow inhabitants from the deepest distant past and future. He says, “to be an artist, you are a representative human being— you have to believe that in order to give your life over to that effort to create something of value. You’re not doing it only to satisfy your own impulses or needs; there is a social imperative. If you solve your problems and speak of them truly, you are of help to others, that’s all. And it becomes a moral obligation.” Thank you, Mr. Kunitz.

You can reach Dana Walrath via email at or visit The Writer’s Retreat in Cape May, New Jersey  

 OVERCOMING WRITING HURDLES – October Writing Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA


By Cindy Barrilleaux


“I loved having the time to ponder, to be alone, and to be surrounded with others who enjoy writing and feel passion around this form of expression.  My favorite part was feeling validated by the group, encouraged and by my own effort to take time to make my writing a priority. Creative energy creates similar energy.”            Maria Fleshood, Virginia


Take advantage of the Columbus Day weekend – Friday, October 7 – Monday, October 10, 2011 - to devote yourself to your writing in a relaxing, beautiful setting. You'll start each day uplifted by watching hundreds of hot-air balloons floating overhead as all of this occurs during the International Balloon Fiesta. Then you'll enjoy a mix of writing exercises, solitary time for your own writing and one-on-one consultation with Cindy Barrilleaux, a veteran writing coach and editor. The focus will be on tips and techniques for solving a whole host of writing problems, from not having enough time, to getting stuck, to organization, to writers block, to polishing final drafts. You’ll be energized, renewed, and freed up to move forward on your writing.

The comfortable single bedroom accommodations at the Madonna Retreat Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico overlook the Rio Grande. One evening we’ll go to the balloon Fiesta field for one of the most popular event of the Fiesta, the Glowdeo and fireworks, when the huge, tethered balloons in all shapes and colors fire up their engines simultaneously, while you walk among them. That’s followed by a spectacular fireworks display.

Come relax, write with no distractions, discover solutions for your writing problems, and enjoy the best New Mexico has to offer!

“The writing exercises were great--they helped me to realize that when just let it flow, the words come naturally.   Recognizing that I can be creative in my writing if I step out of the way and let it flow was a great lesson for me.”      Gwen Pullen, New Mexico


“I was able to wrap my mind around subtle aspects of my project during the retreat. My time spent writing was productive, and the writing exercises were helpful and enjoyable. I loved the prompts and enjoyed hearing what other's had written.”     Paula Ray, Nebraska


Cindy Barrilleaux has been coaching and editing writers for more than 25 years. A former managing editor of the leading magazine for mental health professionals, she now helps writers around the world accomplish their writing goals. Although she works with fiction writers, her specialty is nonfiction. For more information and to register, visit her website at or e-mail Cindy at


A Step-by-Step Guide to Set Up and Operate a Writers’ Retreat


I want to give a special thank you to all of you for sending comments regarding my recently released guidebook A Writers’ Retreat: Starting from Scratch to Success! I wrote this as a guide to assist you in contemplating your dream of operating a writers’ retreat business and I am so glad to hear it is fulfilling its purposes in making you realize that your dream of operating a retreat business is possible but more importantly that it inspired you to take action and gave you strength to go further with your project.


Reading and following A Writers’ Retreat: Starting from Scratch to Success! you will: 

-    Lay the foundation for a solid writer’s retreat by developing a vision

-    Understand your value and strengths by self-evaluating your knowledge, experience, and interests

-    Confidently frame the business you’ve dreamed of by analyzing your needs, choosing a location, and a property

-    Successfully market your retreat business following Micheline Côté’s expert instruction for defining your territory and designing a viable program of literary services

-    Develop a long-term clientele by adapting and using successful structure tools and system templates.


Visit to peak inside the guidebook. It is available in print, e-book, and audio formats.


The Writers’ Retreat is stronger than ever. More than 2,000 subscribers enjoy the benefits of our year-round residential retreats, their location and services, and their programs. We are excited by the prospect of serving more writers at more locations. We welcome your participation in creating a broader choice for our community of writers.


Join now, it will only cost you only $199 per year, that’s $0.54 per day! Visit our network at or email



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